US soldier cleared of taking armoured vehicle out for joyride – because he's insane, court says

60-mile Virginia roadtrip thankfully ended peacefully

A US Army officer who "borrowed" an armoured vehicle to go on a joyride has been cleared of wrongdoing by a military court – by "reason of insanity".

Joshua Phillip Yabut, 30, a lieutenant in the Virginia National Guard's 276th Engineer Battalion (the American version of the TA), was reportedly deemed delusional by mental health professionals after he took a 12-ton M577 armoured command post vehicle for a drive around Blackstone, Virginia, having purloined it from the Fort Pickett Army base near the town.

He managed to get about 60 miles away, reportedly using Twitter to broadcast his exploits, before police stopped the ACP and arrested the 30-year-old.

The M577 did not have any weapons while Yabut was driving towards Richmond Town Hall, up the road from Blackstone, and the only weapon on the officer himself was his unloaded issue pistol.

He also pleaded guilty to violating the terms of a previous bond agreement made after he somehow flew from America to Iraq and back earlier this year – while not on a military assignment.

Yabut claimed that his brigade commander had ordered him to take the vehicle for a drive around town to test the local authorities' response, something they vehemently denied at the time and which was later found to be untrue. He is said to have told psychologists that the mission was both secret and had to be carried out publicly to stop him from being taken into US federal custody.

The authorities' initial claim that Yabut was on drugs at the time of the drive, a point he disputed, has been dropped.

Yabut's civilian career was reportedly in infosec when he wasn't with the National Guard, having worked for NASA and cryptocurrency biz Zencash, which strongly denied he has any ongoing connection with them after leaving in 2017.

A court will determine Yabut's medium-term fate in October. ®

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